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Finding the Harmony

As we come back from the holidays, our brains are often buzzing with the many things we want to accomplish in the upcoming year. As leaders, whether we are CMOs or CEOs, we are always battling a long list of “to dos” at the start of a new year, which is often compounded with calendar year planning and new projects. But every now and then, something happens that forces us to pause, and remember how important it is to reconnect with ourselves – our family, friends and other loved ones.

How can we as leaders continue to fire on all cylinders and work hard to accomplish our big goals, while maintaining what one of Allocadia’s investors calls “work/life harmony” (I have now adopted this over the word ‘balance’ as it does say more of a merging of these vs. an opposition between the two!). This holiday season, I was reminded how important it is to make time for health and well being — especially in our busy world of rapid change. So here are some of the things I do (granted some better than others), to create “work/life harmony”:

1. Creative Outlets: Having a creative outlet such as reading is a great way to rest the mind. I’ve always liked adventure books – they take me out of my day-to-day and into another world. Books have always been an outlet for me. I also do crafts with my daughter and puzzles with my son. Both require my entire focus and provide a much-needed mental break. For my husband, his outlet is cooking (lucky me!).

2. Friends: Spending time with close friends has always kept me grounded and connected. Close friends especially do this for me, as they often bring a long history and know you inside out: your quirks, charms, successes and failures. The can make you laugh and are always easy to spend time with. A good laugh with my close group of girlfriends is always living in the present.

3. “Hands-on Special Projects”: One of the best ways I find “work/life harmony” is doing something with my hands and seeing the efforts of my work. On the weekends, I often seek out a “special project” as I call it, such as organizing the pantry (haha), purging in the toy room, or doing yard work! If you do these projects with your kids or friends, it becomes a positive reconnecting activity.

4. Disconnecting Technology: As CEO and Co-founder of a technology start up, I naturally spend an inordinate amount of time on a computer (or some other electronic device!). There is nothing that can disconnect me more from being in the present than technology check-ins. I know as leaders, it’s often hard to step away from our devices or computers, and I’m not suggesting you never check them or work after hours. (I certainly need to and do — especially when my children are in bed!) But we need to be aware there is always a time and place, and have to choose these accordingly. It’s not during my daughter’s soccer game, or right before I go to bed, or at the dinner table. Remember to disconnect from technology so you can re-connect with yourself and your loved ones.

5. Physical Activity: Getting exercise an obvious one to keep you healthy and make you more productive at work. But I know it’s often the first one to slip when I get busy. After a too long hiatus, I’m happy to report that I’m back to exercising. (There’s really no excuse for me as we have a fitness facility right next door!) Adding some physical activity can be as easy as heading out for a walk with a friend, or taking your kids to the field and kicking the soccer ball around, or walking or cycling to work instead of driving.

When I do these things, I feel healthier. My mind is clear and I have more energy. I’m more grounded during the hard times, and clear to work hard to create opportunities and be fully engaged when I’m working. Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington is a big advocate of achieving balance in one’s life, and writes of the benefits of walking to keep her connected. While I always aspire for work/life balance (or harmony) it’s always a challenge. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you achieve balance in your life. Contact me @kristinesteuart, or tweet us @allocadia and use hashtag #worklifeharmony.

As CEO of Allocadia, I’ve had to learn to lead in a rapidly growing, fast-moving market. And as marketers building Allocadia, we have learned a lot about selling to CMOs: their needs and challenges, and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in this new Marketing 2.0 world. This Leading in Change: CEO Blog Series is intended to help inspire CMOs and marketing operations to lead and build data-driven marketing organizations.